Two more individuals have revealed they were accidentally dosed with marijuana contained in pastries purchased from a vendor at the March 31 Pacific Palisades Farmers Market.
John and Maureen Gardener purchased two almond tarts at the Sunday farmers market, where they buy their weekly supplies.
“We shop regularly at the Palisades Farmers Market,” John shared with the Palisadian-Post. “We’ve been buying French pastries from a little stand for quite a while, and they’re always outstanding.”
John explained that the couple bought their usual selection, including two almond tarts. They didn’t eat one of the tarts until Tuesday after dinner.
“I had half and my wife had half,” John said. “Then we both went to do our things; my wife has a sewing room and I sit at my design computer, both in entirely different rooms. An hour-and-a-half later, I felt a little strange. My face felt tingly, I felt a bit tired, and I thought ‘I’ll shut the computer down and go rest.’”
John explained that when he got up to walk across the room, it felt as if the ground was moving, similar to an earthquake. He called to Maureen in the other room, who said she was feeling the same thing.
“We sat down in the kitchen and things got progressively worse,” John continued. “I lost my balance, I started to shake and I felt an intense nausea. I thought maybe I was having a heart attack.”
“I also felt off-balance, but I wasn’t as out of it as my husband,” Maureen told the Post. “But it was a very interesting experience. I cannot think of why anybody would do it for pleasure.”
The Gardeners called 911 and were transported to the emergency room at Providence St. John’s Health Center.
Doctors conducted a number of tests on the pair, including blood and urine tests, confirming they had cannabis oil in their systems.
“I said, ‘I’ve never taken marijuana or any drug of that kind,’’ John said. “‘I wouldn’t allow it in the house or anybody with it in the house.’”
“I’ve been in the Palisades 23 years, I’ve never had anything like this happen,” Dr. Damon Raskin, a Palisadian internist affiliated with Providence St. John’s Health Center, told the Post. “I think this was a good warning. One of the things we worry about now that [marijuana is] legal obviously is patients who don’t know they’ve ingested it.”
Raskin explained that with high-potency marijuana, it can take a couple of days to get back to feeling normal.
“There are lot of medical concerns, especially if those individuals have prior health issues,” Raskin said. “The symptoms can feel severe.”
The Gardeners were released the next morning from St. John’s and shortly thereafter notified authorities about the poisoning. John contacted officers at the LAPD West Bureau Precinct, who told him the incident was a civil case and not a criminal case.
Eventually, the Gardeners reached a representative with the County of Los Angeles Morbidity Unit of Acute Communicable Disease Control, which passed their information on to the Wholesale Food and Safety Program, which established a case number for the incident.
“I don’t think the guy who operates the stand is responsible,” John said. “He’s an honest, nice guy.”
“I would not hesitate to order something from this guy again, I trust him that much,” Maureen said. “His stuff is that superb. He has great business ethic and seems to be an ethical person. I’m sure he’s devastated.”
California Certified Farmers Markets Director of Coordination and Development Melissa Farwell, who oversees the Palisades market, is conducting investigations internally and in coordination with the Health Department.
“At the Palisades Farmers Market, our goal is to provide quality produce, foods and products,” Farwell said in a statement. “This means that we require our vendors to adhere to the highest level of quality control and standards. Therefore, it is a very serious matter for us.
“When we received two notifications that a product sold by one of our vendors may have contained cannabis, we took it upon ourselves to notify the Health Department after each notice, and they are looking into the matter and we have suspended the accused vendor pending investigations.”